Visitors to Madrid couldn’t ask for a better location than the Hotel Hospes, facing onto Plaza de la Independencia, opposite the entrance to the beautiful Retiro Park and alongside Calle Serrano, Madrid’s smartest shopping street.
Nor could visitors ask for a friendlier, more accommodating staff at the front desk. After the first day of my week at this new boutique hotel, I was greeted by name as I passed, didn’t have to ask for my room key – they remembered my room number – and was told that I should take one of the hotel’s umbrellas as I left for dinner one evening, because rain was forecast for later.
When I discovered that my laptop’s internet connection wasn’t working and couldn’t access the wifi in my room, they loaned me a laptop. When I mentioned that the tea bags at breakfast were all herbal teas, the next morning I was brought a pot of fresh brewed loose tea – properly made with boiling water.
The fruit juice at breakfast was fresh-made -- even the apple juice, which was made with Granny Smiths and arrived still frothy and bright green. The fresh pineapple juice was ambrosial.
When I arrived, one of the young men at the desk (at least two and usually four receptionists were always on duty) offered a tour of the hotel, in which he told me the building’s history. Built in 1883 as a group of apartments for upper-class Madrillenos, the building was very respectfully converted to a hotel, preserving the interior courtyards – in one case as a small lounge with a glass ceiling.
The current entrance with its monumental glass doors, he told me, was the carriage entrance, and as I looked more carefully I could see how it continued under an arched passageway into a courtyard that is now a pleasant café in the summer. Behind it is a two-story tile-roofed former stable, now the hotel’s spa.
Our room was not large, but – like the public areas of the hotel – it was stylishly decorated, with very modern clean lines, in white and gray, with muted purple sculptured velvet headboard and accent pillows. Since I was there for a week, this is one hotel where I would have welcomed a bureau so I could unpack, but the only drawer space was in two small nightstands. None of the rooms, I later learned from colleagues, had a bureau or a desk. But a call to the desk brought plentiful polished wood hangers, so I unpacked into the closet instead.
Madrid was such an exciting city that I didn’t have time to write, so the lack of a desk was unimportant. From the Hospes front door I could walk easily to the Prado and all the art museums on the “Golden Mile” and even to Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. The helpful front desk staff suggested several excellent restaurants and tapas bars within a block of the hotel, so we didn’t have to go far at night unless we wanted to.
It is the policy of this hotel group to identify and rehabilitate distinguished old buildings and make each into a distinctive boutique lodging. Madrid is the second we have stayed in, and we have been impressed both times with how well they have retained the important historic elements, while at the same time creating a very contemporary and stylish building.
Decorative detail in the hotel was outstanding – small seating areas with elegant furnishings, two guests-only salons paneled in rich woods with the feel of an exclusive British men’s club, vases of fresh flowers in hallways, magnificent crystal chandeliers encased in clear glass cylinders.
Most of all, we appreciated the genial atmosphere of Madrid’s Hospes Hotel, and the many welcoming touches, including a bottle of very nice Spanish wine and stemware always available near the cushy sofa in the lobby.